Toshiko Takaezu: Toward a New Island Modernism | Leila Philip

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    Toshiko Takaezu and Leila Philip


Toshiko Takaezu: Toward a New Island Modernism | Leila Philip


Sunday May 03 05:00 PM


Doris Duke Theatre

About the Lecture:

In this free illustrated lecture, Leila Philip considers the work of Hawai’i-born, internationally-renowned ceramic artist, Toshiko Takaezu (1922 – 2011), whose work delved into spaces between cultures, artistic traditions, and gender roles. The daughter of Okinawan immigrants who worked in the sugar cane fields of Hawai‘i, Takaezu rose to become a key figure in the American ceramics world during the 1950s and 60s – an historic moment when ceramics began to bridge the worlds of craft and sculpture, and a time when American arts and culture were highly responsive to Japanese and especially Zen aesthetics. Both her life story and her influential ceramic work exemplify patterns of cross-cultural exchange, reflecting aspects of Hawai’i and her Japanese heritage, as well as influences of other aesthetics such as Bauhaus and Abstract Expressionism.

In her talk Philip will look at Takaezu and her work from a somewhat modernist framework, presenting her in light of artists such as Frida Kahlo, who rather than make a formal rupture with the past, worked to bring forward elements of the past as part of her work as an artist and artistic personae. Takaezu, like Kahlo, evoked an indigenous heritage, insisting that this blend of old and new be part of her work and identity as an artist. 

Leila Philip studied poetry at Princeton University, where she majored in Comparative Literature, graduating cum laude with a degree in East Asian Studies. While still a student, she studied ceramics in Japan for two years as an apprentice to the master potter Nagayoshi Kazu. After graduation, she worked for several years as a journalist, then went on to earn an MFA at Columbia University as the Woolrich Fellow in Fiction. She is the author of three books, including The Road Through Miyama (Random House 1989, Vintage 1991) for which she received the 1990 / PEN Martha Albrand Special Citation for Nonfiction; and the award-winning memoir A Family Place: A Hudson Valley Farm, Three Centuries, Five Wars, One Family (Viking 2001, Vintage 2002, SUNY 2009). Philip has received numerous awards for her writing, including fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts and The National Endowment for the Humanities. Fluent in Japanese, she writes on Japan as well as about art for a variety of venues including Art in America and Art Critical.  Philip is an Associate Professor in the English department at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA, and holds the title of Honored Visiting Graduate Faculty Mentor in the Ashland University low residency MFA program in Creative Writing.

She is currently working on a biography and cultural study of Toshiko Takaezu.

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